Norfolk —Beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Ann Giat passed away as gently as she lived on January 14, 2017 at Beth Sholom Village where she was cared for the last year of her life. She was 88 years old.
Met and Virginia Opera lover, glass blower and self taught accountant, rescuer of cats and Siamese aficionado, European pastry cook and tailored fashionista, Ann was the epitome of grace, ability and culture.
Born to Lucia and Oskar With in New York City in 1928, she and her sister Ruth roller-skated down the city avenues and traveled the trains to every corner of the city as girls. Shortly after their father left the family, their maternal grandparents came to assist, but while here the Nazis closed the borders of their native Romania, and they were forced to remain in the United States while family members left behind perished in the Holocaust. The family got through the Depression running a candy store in the Yorkville section of Manhattan.
Ann showed artistic talent and intelligence from a young age. She was New York City spelling-bee champion in her age group, and honored by the Mayor as having the second-highest IQ in the City. She attended the High School of Music and Art and later took classes at the Arts Students League.
Through a mutual friend in Brooklyn, Ann met and then married Ouriel Giat, whose family had emigrated in 1929 from what would later become Israel.
They made a family home in West Hempstead, Long Island where their children Laura, Daniel, and Matthew were raised before a move in 1966 to Fairfield, Connecticut. Ann cultivated art and reading in her children. She began memorable, warm, religious, and holiday events at home that have become traditions in the family.
Ann’s garden was always full of roses, forsythia, and azalea. From her sewing machine came velvet dresses for Laura, suits for Daniel and Matthew, pajamas, coats, and little hats. There was always a present on their beds when they woke on their birthdays. Many years later her young grandchildren found little presents in the mail beautifully wrapped with cards in her elegant script that said simply, “I love you.”
Ann rose through the secretarial pool at the regional office of Coca Cola to become New England Branch Operations Manager, first in Westport, Connecticut, and later in Manhattan, a career from which she retired in 1992.
When she retired, having trained many young women seeking to make their way in business services, she found a new life in the quieter inlets and neighborhoods of Tidewater Virginia just blocks away from her daughter Laura. There, she served on the hospital auxiliary of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital as its accountant, and helped find funding for nursing scholarships for more young women. She also served as accountant for the auxiliary of Virginia Opera for many years. She was an amateur etymologist and excelled in the New York Times crossword puzzle.
Ann is survived by daughter Laura and her husband Rabbi Larry Forman, by grandchildren Aaron and Jordana, and by great-grandchildren Annabella and Myles; by son Daniel and his wife Jane, by grandchildren Rebecca and Julian, and by great-grandaughters Elisabeth and Olivia; by son Matthew and his wife Nataliya, and grandson Andrew.
A celebration of life will be held in the spring, in the city of her birth, New York. Donations to the American Cancer Society.